Synchronicity or just Evil?

I have this friend (she’s awesome, actually, you should check out her stuff–cutewitch772–google it, she is on YouTube and other platforms!), and this friend and I talk witch stuff.  She’s not in my coven, she’s more of a Reclaiming witch, so we come from some different perspectives, and I think that being able to have conversations about the way we each approach, you know, life, helps to broaden and deepen our own experiences.  At least that’s the way I feel about it.

So we were talking one time, in the not-too-distant past, about how she has been asked by people–well what do you do for protection?  How do you ward against evil spirits or negative energy every day?  And it’s funny, because we both realized that we don’t typically worry about such things on a day to day basis, and yet, it seems to be on the public’s mind.  Neither of us had really had to do battle, if you will, and I had only had to do one or two workings to help friends out in my nearly 20 years of practice.

I went to ConVocation this past February in Detroit (amazing experience for me, would highly recommend).  There were SO MANY workshops on warding, protection, curses and hexes, and so forth.  I’m STILL transcribing all of my notes.

The very first workshop I went to (because I didn’t get there until Day 2) was Ellen Dugan’s.  She is a very dynamic presenter, knowledgable, and interesting to listen to.  There were many takeaways, but for this post, I have two I want to share: 1) Honestly, unless you’re a public Pagan and put yourself out there, it’s not likely that people are going to be doing negative magic against you.  Think about it: why would some random person just decide they’re going to attack you?  So unless you’re public and at least fairly well-known, or make an enemy, it’s probably not something you’re going to deal with on a regular basis.  2) We ran such a good PR campaign in the 90’s that we’re not evil baby-eating devil-worshippers that we have a whole generation convinced that Wicca is all goodness and light and there’s no dark side, and they AREN’T doing the work to protect themselves, and they are at risk from THEMSELVES.  She went into signs of negative work and warding examples and why shielding isn’t enough…if you ever get a chance, take the workshop.

So fast forward a month, month and a half.

I run into a new Wiccan, on the younger side but an adult, who was involved with someone…who used “gray” magic (what?) and would sometimes invite things in (what?) during ritual (are you shitting me?).  That relationship ended, thank the gods, and she was not thrilled with any of those activities and also thought they were sketchy…except these poor, inexperienced people were now experiencing class signs of an entity or evil energy taking root in their home (awful smells, things moving, hearing voices, frightening shadows, nightmares, etc.) and it was starting to spread to other parts of their lives.

Nearly 20 years of practice, and this is the first time, the FIRST time, I actually heard a story that made me go…wait a minute, you have a serious problem that needs a magical fix.

So I worked with another friend of mine who owns a local shop (A Creative ApotheCare–check them out, too, I teach classes there and they have great one-of-a-kind stuff!) to come up with a plan of how to deal with it.  By the next full moon, the girl texted me and said that it worked and they were fine now.  Thank the gods!

And since then I’ve had two more people approach me with what I feel are legitimate attacks/issues with negative forces.

Now I’ve heard stories before.  I’ve spoken with Pagans, been in contact with people who have questions.  I find that a person’s own fears and anxieties can make them feel like they’re being attacked–that, after all, is one of the symptoms of anxiety.  I will then focus on that issue.  It’s not like I haven’t been paying attention.

So is it synchronicity, that after spending a weekend learning ALL about warding I find people who need help from my newfound knowledge?

Or is it that the evil of the world is becoming more ubiquitous?  Is it stronger right now?  Is it part of my sphere because there’s just more of it everywhere?  Certainly the current political climate would suggest such a thing–I don’t care what your politics are, children (who are not in abusive homes) belong with their families and they ought not be separated as a “matter of policy.”  The US withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council.  School shootings and other mass shootings are so common we’re numb to it.  Laws are passed that oppress women and bodily autonomy.  I have friends afraid to post on the Internet even though they’ve been doing it for over a decade because the trolls are so awful and so cruel this friend feels beat down by it, to put it mildly.

No, Wicca isn’t all love and light.  We recognize there is balance in everything.  But everything tends toward chaos, so our work is to balance that, which is why we work in love and light primarily while balancing out the chaos within ourselves at the same time.  There is shadow work to be done, and we see the power and necessity of the things that are destructive and painful…but destruction and pain are different from evil.  They are not the same thing.  Even the destruction and pain helps to bring us away from evil, and love and light can beget evil if not used properly.

It’s sticky.  Complicated.  Ugly, even.  But oft times also beautiful.  And simple.  Give the thirsty man a drink of water not because it is right to do so but because he is thirsty.  Do the work.

Blessed be.

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Leadership

Not everyone is meant to be a leader, and not everyone who is a leader is meant to be a leader in every area of their life.

I’ve learned the hard way that being in nursing management is not for me.  That’s a long story, but suffice to say, I’m too nice and want to please too many people, and I struggle with the idea that employees are pissed at me.  Call me tender.

I’ve also learned that, being a coven leader, I am far, far from perfect, but it’s an entirely different dynamic, and one I’m more comfortable with in going through the struggles of growth.  I still want everyone to be happy, but I have hurt someone worse out of my fear of hurting them at all.  There are a lot of factors there, too, including the fact that I was in the midst of preparing for surgery and if I said my head was screwed on straight I’d be lying through my teeth.  I was not in a great position for handling it the best way possible, but I still stand by the decisions made.  That’s part of leadership, too–even if you regret how something went down, you have to stand by your decisions.  In the end, I think many positive things are happening for this person, and it was still the right choice, I just wish I hadn’t inadvertently hurt them.

One of the things I struggle with is boundaries.  The idea of Ariawn as friend vs Ariawn as High Priestess.  I’m a naturally open person, I am willing to talk about literally ANYTHING with someone, from what they had for breakfast to whatever their kinks are.  This, however, can be confusing if I have to assert my authority and come down on someone.  Does this mean that I am not clearly setting expectations of respect?  A coven is a group of equals, in which the High Priestess is not the ruler or tyrant, but in the end her word is LAW.  I try hard to hear everyone out, and then make the most fair decision possible.  I do not view myself as above my covenmates, but I know that the mantle of responsibility and protecting them is mine to bear.  So how do I make it clear with people who are new that yes, I am friendly, and yes, a coven becomes close as family, and yes, I’ll talk about anything–but my duty as High Priestess comes first?  Is it enough to just say that?  Do I limit what I am willing to discuss with someone?

I make mistakes.  A good leader has to recognize when this has happened.  I’m not infallible because I represent the Goddess.  Our gods are not infallible.

But, I have worked hard to make a safe space for people to learn, for people to worship, for people to explore their spirituality.  I may screw it up, and I may say shitty things, and I may change my mind on something, but that’s part of why it has to be safe–because we all screw up, we all say shitty things, we all need to be allowed to change our minds and have the peace and understanding that comes from it.  Wicca is an organic religion, which means it, too, has to change and grow–and us with it.

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Flux

I feel like everything is in a state of flux.

This is true in many regards.  Every day my body changes.  What my stomach can handle changes.  My work status…well, the status is the same, but the effectiveness of what I am trying to do in the meantime changes.  Is it Mercury retrograde mucking about with it?

Eh.  Maybe.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what I am feeling.  Oh, I’m feeling.  That’s not the issue.  Sometimes I think I am completely calm and centered, but if I take a moment I realize that I am quietly panicking inside.

We’re uncovering ghosts, too.

No, really.

When my mother moved back from Texas, my grandmother’s antiques came with her.  From a small town called Jefferson.  One of the most haunted towns in East Texas.  I was cleaning the curio cabinet and remarked to my mom, “I can just FEEL her.  She’s sitting behind me, dragging on a cigarette, and just…WATCHING.  Wanting to know what I’m doing and what my intentions are.  Even though it’s pretty clear and obvious she’s…watching.”  Mom said Grandma had a way of doing just exactly that.  Watching and evaluating and even if she were silent you could just feel it.

I only ever met my grandmother twice.

But then again, my mom is sometimes like that.  And I know I am, too.  Genetics are weird.  But I’ll be in my kitchen, putzing around, cleaning or cooking or both, and my mom is just…watching me.  And asking me what I’m doing.  And asking what she can do.  And asking me again when I disappear from sight for two seconds.  I wonder what it will be like when I have kids?  Will my penchant for “What ya doin’?” only get worse?  Since I am aware of it will I be able to manage it?

Or do I just accept it with gleeful repose knowing that genetics are weird and my kids are just cursed to do the same thing anyway?

Except it isn’t just genetics.  We make choices, too.  There’s the nurture aspect of human development.  My mom made a conscious choice to stop the cycle of abuse.  She’s incredibly strong like that.

I had strength.  Have.  Had.  It’s there, just under the surface of all of the flux.  I think it’s what keeps me afloat, honestly.  I may not have the brute strength of mind and body I did a few years ago, but without it, I think I would’ve fallen apart under all of the strain.

And behind it all is the Lady.  The Goddess.  The Mother of us All.  I can feel her at my back.  Within me when I draw down the moon.  Even when she departs after the drawing, a small piece of Her stays with me, always.  She is the moon-rock foundation of my soul and when everything else is stripped away, I know I can stand with Her.  On Her.  Beside Her.  Within Her.

Because she is my mom.  Flesh and blood.  She is the vessel in which my body was forged and so thus was my soul.  She will forever be my strength and my courage to carry forward.

Out of love.

Love.

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Surgery

I had gastric bypass surgery on January 24, 2018.  I don’t have to justify my decision, but suffice to say I knew I had to do it to save my life.  My ability to work was rapidly diminishing.  I could not do the things I enjoyed.  I could not get pregnant.  I was having difficulty breathing–I had sleep apnea.  My depression was worsening.  My anxiety was becoming uncontrollable.

Wicca is a healing art.  I’ve used many of the techniques that have been part of my training and practice to manage my health over the years, but Wicca is not an absolute power.  Neither is modern medicine.  Both have their pros and their cons.  To reject one utterly in favor of the other is unbalanced, and leaves us weakened.  Witches use what works, we just remember more of the old remedies that sometimes modern medicine would rather we forget because of their own failings, and sometimes we become mistrustful of doctors and miss out on powerful new developments in the healing arts.

It is important that we move past our mutual misgivings and learn to work together.

So when my own work was not cutting it anymore, I turned to modern medicine.  I made a decision.  No amount of exercise, no type of dieting was cutting it anymore.  For many people, it’s not so simple as put down the fork or go to the gym.  Myself and more than one of my friends will literally gain five pounds over night just for eating a sandwich–oh, sure, it doesn’t seem possible, it must be water weight…and yet, it never falls off again.  And we are not just full of water.

For six months I saw doctors, followed a strict diet, went to group therapy sessions…and finally, finally was cleared for surgery.

Anyone who thinks weight loss surgery is the easy path or “cheating” can go ahead and throat punch themselves and save me the trouble of having to do it.

I had complications immediately after surgery.  I had severe pain when I woke up (I woke up howling…no, seriously, literally howling).  When I could finally articulate words, I asked for Dilaudid, and that finally started to help.  I was getting ready to be transferred to the regular floor, and declined to receive more Dilaudid so that I could get to the business of healing in my own hospital room.  Once upstairs, I asked for more pain meds..”Well….you’ve had a lot of narcotics already…let’s try Tylenol…” you know, less than 2 hours out of surgery.  Tylenol.  What a joke.  Thankfully my surgeon came up to the room shortly after that, and he looked at the nurse and told her directly to her face, “Give her the oxycodone I ordered her.”  The day went better after that.  My nurse that night was experienced with bypass patients as well–it was a good night.

But somehow my 6am Toradol dose got missed.  Toradol is like suped up Ibuprofen (i.e., Advil) that you can take IV.  I was getting it around the clock, scheduled.  Anti-inflammatory.  Great stuff right after getting your insides rearranged.  I woke up, and I needed to use the bathroom.  I needed to pee, but, being the nurse-patient I am, damned if I was going to call for help–and it was almost 9am, I hadn’t seen anyone yet, so my post-surgical brain is going, “Meh, you gotta be able to use the bathroom by yourself by tomorrow anyway.”  So, with much pain and struggling, bent half over, I get myself to the bathroom.  My nurse arrived while I was in there, so he told me he’d be back with my meds.

In the meanwhile, another of his patients apparently coded, was intubated on the floor and sent to ICU.  That’ll set a nurse back by at least an hour.  So a colleague came to give me my meds around 10am.  Two hours until my next Toradol dose is due…”Well you missed your 6am dose but it’s almost noon I don’t know what he’s going to want to do…” “Let’s keep it easy, I’ll take my Toradol at its scheduled time, just bring me my oxycodone and Tylenol now.”  She doesn’t bring me the 10mg of oxycodone I’d been taking, she only brings me 5–whatever, I don’t want to argue.  It’s enough to get me by for a little while.

Not too long after, I hear her updating my nurse in the hallway.  …”You gave her oxy?!  Oh no no no, she’s 24 hours post op, she shouldn’t be on that anymore.”  So he comes in, looking kind and reasonable–and honestly, for the most part, he is–and tells me he’s going to get my order changed.  To Ultram.  Technically this is a narcotic, but damn if Ultram isn’t the wimpiest of all of the narcotics you can take.  I shouldn’t have agreed to it–but neither should my surgery team have allowed it.  I was the first bypass patient at that hospital, though, we were all on a learning curve.  I took the Ultram.

It seemed to help.  But I think the Toradol was more effective, honestly.  They also said I gauze that needed to come out–but on initial assessment, the gauze was not evident.  Turned out it slipped back inside of me.  Got left in my abdomen for 48 hours.  The “two inches” the NP thought he was supposed to remove turned out to be more like two FEET…and now it was dry, and my tissues had started healing onto it.  That hurt like a bitch when it came out, but it was also, initially, a relief.

Two days after surgery, after the gauze was removed, I went home.  On Ultram.  You can’t take oral Toradol on a new pouch–NSAIDs can deteriorate your stomach lining, and at this stage I need to keep everything intact.  So I’m on Ultram and Tylenol.  I do OK the first night.

The next day, Saturday now, I wake up and go to walk.  I can barely walk the hallway to my bathroom.  I’m having a hard time breathing.  I seem to be OK if I sit down and relax–maybe I’m pushing myself too hard?  I make the decision to take a nap, let my body keep healing.

That evening, I’m sitting in my chair, and I notice that I am struggling to breathe at rest.  I’m only 33.  I have no history of respiratory disease.  This isn’t normal.  I call the fellow on-call.  Pulseox is 87%, HR in the 110’s-120’s.  Time to go to the ER.

Takes a little while to be seen.  I’m stable, if struggling.  Finally get a bed–labs are taken, imaging studies ordered.  Potassium was a touch low, so I’m given some.  They won’t get me O2 because they can’t get my blood gas–takes 4 tries.  Metabolic alkalosis.  No surprise, I just had gastric bypass.  Finally get some O2, 3L nasal cannula.  Oxygen level starts to come up, but it’s not staying up unless I concentrate on breathing very deeply.  This is easier to do now because they gave me some IV Toradol.  CT scan gets done–I have atelectasis.  Alveoli in the bases of my lungs collapsed so I’m not getting gas exchange.  How, you ask?

Poor pain control resulting in shallow breathing, even with incentive spirometer…here’s a hint, kids: even if your patient is a nurse and experienced with these devices, you should be making sure she is using it properly and getting the correct amount of volume.  No one ever checked to make sure I was using it correctly.  I wasn’t.  I’m post surgery, I’m not thinking clearly.  It would’ve been nice to have someone check on this.

Deep breathing, pain meds…I start to feel much better.  I try to tell the MDs that the last time I had belly surgery Percocet kept me well controlled–but they don’t listen.  Won’t listen.

Here’s something you may not know: Every time a narcotic is prescribed, it goes into a national reporting system.  Before a controlled substance is prescribed, it is the due diligence of a physician to look the patient up in the system and see what they have been prescribed and when.  It’s not uncommon for that list to be so long the doctor has to scroll through it.  I saw my list yesterday.  There are only 5 entries.  CLEARLY I have never had a problem with substance abuse.

But with the current opioid crisis?  They won’t even consider it.

Nevermind that I was SUPPOSED to be discharged on oxycodone per the program. It’s in my book.  I didn’t realize this until I was already discharged.  The fellow on call said the residents from the program would see me, by the way.

They never did.

Oh and I had a hematoma in the location the gauze had been the size of a Coke can.  Another “no duh” to my breathing and pain issue.  That’s a lot of blood in one place.

So I went home, told to just take my Tylenol and Ultram (ha!).  Twenty-four hours later…

I call the nurse coordinator.  Turns out no one told my surgeon I was in the ER over the weekend.  Neat.  I’m still having pain.  My surgeon wants me to come in and be seen in the office.

While I am in the office, my pain becomes so excruciating I am screaming out.  They rush me back to the ER.  Drama…hours…more drama…I finally get pain relief.  My surgeon’s fellow comes to see me.  They FINALLY prescribe me the oxycodone.  I’m kept overnight for observation.

I did well after that.  I was very happy.  Losing weight, advancing my diet.  I was having some issues with swallowing, so they did an EGD.  Same day as that, I got a call from my employer–they lost a quarter of their census.  No hours for me.  Will I work elsewhere in the company?…Not with my trust issues with them.  I trusted my supervisor.  I trusted my co-workers where I was before surgery.  I trusted no one else.  Nursing…nursing destroyed my soul.  I’m burned out.

So now I basically don’t have a job.

But, if they get admissions, I can have my position back.  So I need a short term plan.  I decide to go back to lifeguarding.  But I need to be recertified.

The American Red Cross is stupid.  I support their life-saving work, don’t get me wrong.  But I swear they change shit just to change shit.  It used to be that when you extracted a drowning victim from the water, the primary rescuer would get the person in the water, and a second rescuer would use a backboard as a lever to help get them out safely.  They would sink the backboard straight up and down in the water against the wall, the primary would hand up the victim’s hand, and then get out of the water and grab the victim’s other hand.  Two people, each with a wrist in one hand and the backboard in the other, dividing the strain between them, would lever the victim out of the water together.

Now the secondary rescuer has to do it alone.  One hand on the backboard, one on the wrist, tilt and PULL.  That kind of torque on the shoulder pulling the board?

It’s no wonder I got injured.  It’s not good for the victim, either, because you are not really supposed to pull on their joint, but you have to as a single extractor.

Arm sprain.  Narrowly missed rotator cuff tear.

I can’t complete the training.  I can’t work as a lifeguard.  That avenue is now closed off to me.

In sets the depression…

I hate nursing.  I love it.  I hate it.  I am tired of the abuse.  I am tired of the exhaustion.  I can’t work nights.  Everyone wants you to work nights.  I’m burned out on the bedside.

Too much time.  Too much time to think, to worry.  To over examine everything going on with my body.  Uncontrolled vomiting…two days in the hospital…

Ah, the anxiety.  Paranoia.  Now that my body is feeling much better, my mind is adrift in a sea of the unknown.  Fear.  Convinced that everything is falling apart around me.  Worried about my liver again even though I have no liver symptoms…yes I had a soft pale stool but it was one…one day…turns out my best friend had a similar issue, and we’d eaten together the day before…but suddenly my brain in telling me I am going to die of liver failure.  I don’t drink…but being fat has clearly killed me…it was too late, the bypass isn’t going to save my life…

Oh my Goddess.

This journey.  This bypass journey has been incredibly difficult.  First physically, now mentally.  And it’s not over yet.  Sure I’ve lost 60 lbs since starting this journey, and I otherwise feel great.  But it is not easy.  It is a mind fuck.

I am working very hard on straightening all of this out.  Letting the paranoia go.  Letting the anxiety go.  Letting the depression go.  Accepting this new normal.  Accepting that I CAN be healthy.

Through it all, the number one thing actually keeping me sane IS my Craft.  I can let go when I am focusing on being the Priestess.  I spend a lot of time at a local shop, just grounding, occasionally helping customers find what they need.  Soon I’ll be teaching and doing Crystal Healings.  And in doing healing, I am hoping to find some of the healing that I need for myself.

Maintaining that connection to Goddess and Spirit is invaluable.  It’s not easy.  Gods, none of these things are EASY.  Why do people assume others choices or modes of worship or therapeutic actions are ever the EASY way out, just because they are different?  No one’s path is simple or easy. We are all souls struggling to find our way back to center.

But one of my coven told me something powerful.

Every time we take a breath, it is an opportunity to start again.  To reset.  To come back to center.  Take a mulligan.  Reset button.

So I have to remind myself…to just…

Breathe.

 

 

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Fear

I must not fear.  Fear is the mind killer.  Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. –Frank Herbert, Dune, Litany Against Fear

The Litany Against Fear was one of my high priest’s favorite quotes.  Fear–of the unknown, of being hurt, of dying, of anything–is often at the root of what causes us pain, real or imagined.  It makes us act in ways that perhaps we would not otherwise out of a sense of self preservation, believing we must inflict harm and place imaginary boundaries instead of inflicting kindness and placing real compassion in people’s lives.

Then there are the other things.  The real things that are scary.

I just had gastric bypass surgery.  I may have written about it earlier, I can’t remember.  Long story short: I don’t feel the need to justify my decision to anyone, but for the curious, I did it for my health, and I did it for the sake of my future children.

It is easy to get out of balance.  Easy to say, “Just get through today and I will worry about taking care of myself tomorrow.”  Easy to say, “It’s just a few pounds, plus I believe in body positivity, and the research doesn’t have great correlations between body fat and illness anyway (which is true).”  Easy to say, “I’m young, therefore I am healthy.”

Then the day passes and a new day dawns with the same stresses.  The few pounds turn into a few hundred pounds (literally), and you wonder how it ever happened because you don’t see yourself any differently in the mirror.  Even as a nurse, it’s easy to forget that youth passes into maturity…and youth does not equate to health.

And I will say what I have often said: Nursing destroys people.  The long hours, the stress, the abuse from other healthcare practitioners and administrations, the lack of time to pee, the 5 minute lunches to shove as much food down your throat as you can to try to stave off a blood sugar crash (regardless of whether you have diabetes) before the end of your shift, the fast food dinners on the way home because you didn’t even get those 5 minutes, the constant feelings of inadequacy and second guessing every step you took when you make a med error or, worse, your patient codes even though you know, you KNOW, sometimes a heart just gives out…

And so I had to make a choice.  One of the scariest choices I have ever made in my life.  A choice to reclaim my life.  My body.  My health.  My youth.

My fears were not irrational.  Surgery is frightening, doubly so when you are choosing surgery vs. needing it to preserve your life in the immediate moment.  And I did have some complications after surgery that sent me back to the ER twice after I was discharged–and as of yesterday it has only been two weeks since the procedure.  Thankfully I am stable now and dropping weight like it’s hot.  My pain is minimal, I feel physically better than I did a month ago, and I have high hopes.

But I still fear.

I fear the long term damage being obese most of my life that may have occurred.  I fear that I will regain the weight.  I fear that I still won’t be healthy enough to bear children.  I fear that there is more going on inside of me than I am aware of.  I fear a shortened life.

And now I get it when my mom and my mother in law tell me they don’t want to see a doctor.  They don’t want to know what’s wrong–because something ELSE might be wrong, something they didn’t even expect, and who wants to deal with THAT?  I always thought it’s better to face the enemy you know than be blindsided by the one you refused to see…but now I can understand the peace that comes with the not knowing, and the desire to keep it that way.  I am sick unto death of doctors and hospitals at this point, and don’t want anything more to do with them outside of my profession for as long as I can manage it.

And there are people who are chronically obese, who eat terrible diets, who have never been physically fit (whatever that means)…that have no diagnoses.  No hypertension, no high cholesterol, no diabetes, no liver disease.

But even rational fears can hold us back.  Yes, I have legitimate concerns about my health, but it does not change the reality of my life.  I cannot let my worries prevent me from living my life to the fullest.  From trying to realize my dreams.  From trying to start a family.  From experiencing as much as this beautiful world has to offer because I must to the Summerland to try, try again.  To live in fear is to succumb to the fear.

I believe in love.  I believe in compassion.  I believe in living life passionately, knowing that not every moment will be full of new excitements.  I believe a life lived in love in a worthwhile life.  And as I constantly endeavour to exist in love, I can only conclude that my life has been worthwhile, and that every moment from thence forward is as beautiful as those that have gone past, regardless of what the future holds.

I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.  –Frank Herbet, Dune, Litany Against Fear

 

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Cranky

What do you do when you’re cranky, but can’t figure out why?

Do you go through that?

I do.

Usually coming to work fixes that.  My philosophy has always been that it’s hard enough to be sick, let alone having a cranky nurse.  Once I get on the treatment floor, usually my entire attitude changes.  I’m focused on something outside of myself–I can’t give the cranky any energy, so it gives up and leaves.

Today is different, however.  Today, I’m 3 hours into my shift currently…and I am still cranky.  I have been cranky ever since my group therapy/class I was at yesterday.

I’m being worked up for bariatric surgery.

Don’t get me wrong–I completely believe that the scale is just a number, and it is a very poor indicator of a person’s actual health.  I am very supportive of body positivity at all sizes.  We are all unique, beautiful creatures, and our mental health need not be a slave to numbers.

However, there are times when a person’s body composition negatively impacts their health.  Mine has resulted in insulin excess and resistance–the extra insulin levels in my blood cause me to gain extra body fat at an abnormal rate.  My hormone levels are all out of whack.  I’m struggling with infertility, and my husband and I both desperately want children.

And I’m tired.  And as I gain weight, I am having a harder and harder time doing my job.  My back hurts.  My feet hurt.  I have worsening sleep apnea.

So I made a choice.  A choice to try to save my life.

This also means, however, that I have to face some difficult facts.

I’m a classic binge-eater.  Surgery decreases the amount you can eat in one sitting, but it doesn’t fix the impulses that result in binge eating.  And you can definitely stretch out your stomach pouch from over eating after surgery.  This is one reason why people will regain the weight after having weight loss surgery.

So, a requirement for me to have the surgery is I have to complete this class called “BEST”…which is basically binge eating prevention strategies.  It’s group therapy.  I have to attend 4 sessions of it, and each week focuses on different things like stress management and goal setting, etc.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I have taken A LOT of psychology courses in my time–and they haven’t yet told me anything I don’t know.  This becomes irritating for me after awhile because it’s 90 minutes of talking about things I am aware of–and of course there’s always that one person who has comments for EVERYTHING, or over-explains their point.  Not that I’m never guilty of this, I definitely am, but this person’s obvious anxiety threatens to set off my own anxiety.  It’s difficult.  The one beneficial thing is that I am utilizing the skills taught, and THAT is teaching me things about myself.

Knowledge is useless if we don’t apply it.

So I’ve been cranky.

Now I’m at work, and for the first time in a long time, it’s not helping.  I know that I’ll go to the gym after work today–maybe that’ll help?

Changing the eating habits makes it difficult, too.  Instead of getting the dopamine dump of eating crappy comfort foods…well, I’m not getting the crappy comfort foods.  I know that this, too, shall pass, but the mood shift has been a challenge, and I cannot wait for my body to renormalize.  But it is a wait.

I think that this is part of the challenge of balance.  Yes, we can do cleansings and meditate and use crystal therapy, but NONE of these things are going to create an instantaneous, let alone permanent, improvement.  It takes time.  It takes persistence.  It takes faith, and willpower, and visualization of the goal.

Magic is in everything we do.

Do it.

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Dayton PPD 2017

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend Pagan Pride hosted by the Dayton Pagan Coalition in Dayton, OH.  I was able to stay overnight with my brother and sister in law in Columbus, as well–which meant that I got to see my super amazingly adorable awesome goobery niece, whom I just adore (she’s a little over 3 years old).  It was a great opportunity to visit with friends and family both.

And to make new friends!

When I arrived, I met up immediately with my friend, Cara Mia (cutewitch772…google her!).  She was doing the opening ritual and presenting a workshop titled “Pagans and Prejudice” based on a research project she did in a class she took in her undergraduate studies.  As the theme for this Pride was “Walking Our Earthen Path,” she asked her partner and I to do the primary invocations to the God and Goddess–of course, she asked me about 10 minutes before ritual started, LOL.  Thankfully I am well versed in impromptu ritual and can do an invocation the spot.  Additionally, I had an even greater pleasure in being able to invoke the Goddess in a ritual where Selena Fox (!!) was present!  I tried so hard not to fan-girl out, but at the end of the day I couldn’t help asking for a picture (which I will post later when I’m at my own computer) and gushing a little.  Cara’s ritual was done in the Reclaiming style, a method of worship that is not common in Ohio, and she led it with mirth and reverence, honor and humility, strength and beauty.  I was very proud to be able to call her a dear friend and to see her flourish as a priestess in her element.

Overall it was a lovely event.  The vendors were varied and friendly–I purchased a beautiful suncatcher with a quartz crystal inside of a triple moon dream catcher made of silver (which I will also post later as a picture).  I have a weakness for shiny things, and it was the shiniest thing there, and I simply couldn’t say no.  I believe the young lady has an ETSY shop and takes commissions…I will try to post her information with the picture later.

The only real criticism I have of the event was that one of the presentation pavilions was set quite far from the main festival area, and I believe the attendance was poor at those workshops for that reason as it seemed the others attracted good sized audiences.  For sure the best attended one that I saw was Selena’s “Paganism in the 21st Century,” which was a reflection on where Paganism started in America, how it has changed, what we need to do to keep on track, and what we want to see in the future.  We did a little “visioning” of what we want our future to look like, and got a chance to share those ideas.  Selena made an excellent point about having Pagan friendly retirement communities as the old guard first generation American Pagans are becoming quite elderly if they haven’t passed already.  Another woman who is in the armed forces said she would like to see Pagan military officers, as all known Pagans are currently enlisted soldiers–I wonder if we do have Pagan officers, but because of their position of authority cannot afford the complication of being out of the broom closet?  Another person suggested Pagan schools.  I also offered an idea–with my background in medicine and nursing, it is important to me to see hospitals and western medicine embrace alternative forms of healing and integrate these therapies into modern healthcare.  I believe we have better healing outcomes if we are better able to employ our hard won healing skills in the hospital setting.

Selena also led the main ritual in the middle of day, where we honored our earthen path as well as the military Pagans, active, reserve, or retired, who were present at Pride.  There was dancing and chanting, and she definitely could hold an audience.  Everyone was invited to invoke Earth in the way that was meaningful to them.  There were a couple of priestesses whose invocations knocked my socks off–they were clear vessels of the power of Nature and the gods.  It was great fun and awe inspiring.

I also made a new friend!  She is almost like the female version of my husband in many ways, but also very much like me–we are both Capricorns and were immediately able to bond over what that meant to us (i.e., we are NOT morning people, lol).  She works as a death midwife, which I feel is a very necessary role in our society.  Hospice nurses work in this capacity in some ways, but they are also married to the rules and regulations of modern medicine.  While they can give a lot of education and support, and there is a lot of emotional support needed in hospice, medicine can wear a person down and burn out their empathy.  Having people who are trained to assist with the transition into death is invaluable both to the dying and the ones left behind.  She is also a collaborator on the Pagan Perspectives channel on YouTube (co-founded by Cara as well).  I am not sure if she is OK with having her name shared, so I encourage you to go to the Pagan Perspectives channel and look around!

The Dayton area is very lucky to have such a supportive and cohesive community, and I look forward to attending Pride with them again in the future.

Blessed be.

 

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